|Peter Pastor: Hungary Between Wilson and Lenin...|
I am grateful to my dissertation advisor, Professor Hans A. Schmitt, who guided me through the intricacies of researching and writing a book length monograph. I also owe thanks to my admired friend, Professor Bela K. Kiraly who read the dissertation and encouraged me to do further research at foreign archives which recently opened documents relevant to my inquiry.
I must also thank my colleagues, here and abroad, with whom I corresponded or conversed on topics related to my manuscript. Their advice and direction during its shaping was most valuable. In the United States the list includes Dr. Richard Allen and Dr. Joseph Stasko, Professors Istvan Deak, Nandor Dreisziger, Thomas Karfunkel, Ivan Kovacs, Arno Mayer, Ivan Völgyes and Gabor Vermes. In Great Britain they are Professors Norman Stone and A.J.P. Taylor and in France, Dr. Karoly Kecskemeti and Professor Georges Haupt. Lastly, in Hungary, my thanks are due to Drs. Tibor Hajdu, Elek Karsai, Zsuzsa L. Nagy, Gyorgy Litvan and Gyorgy Ranki.
I am especially indebted to Vice-principal Eva Linder in Hungary, who during the last decade has tirelessly supplied me with recent publications on the topic, and to my uncle Gyorgy Pasztor in Budapest and my cousin Denise Dale in Paris, who during my visits were tireless companions on the endless hunts for out-of-print books at used book stores.
Appreciation is due to Mr. Peter Beales for editorial help on portions of the text and to my typist, who prefers to remain anonymous, for his very careful work. Equally appreciative am l to the staff and directors of archives and libraries for the assistance I received from them. To the witnesses of the events of 1918-1919 who provided me with personal recollections, including Countess Catherine Karolyi, widow of the President. I owe my thanks.
The grants-in-aid covering travel expenses, which I received from Monmouth College, New Jersey during my tenure at that institution, were invaluable. The College Development Fund grant and the release time from my present employer, Montclair State College, greatly helped me to prepare the manuscript for publication.
When faults are found in the monograph, responsibility, as always, will rest with the author.
While Bela Kun and the communist interlude in Hungary have even been subjects of European history surveys, little or no attention has been paid to the Frostflower Revolution, led by Mihaly Karolyi. The revolution, which became victorious on October 30, 1918, had its roots deeply set in the Hungarian past. World War I was seen by the rulers of the antiquated Habsburg Monarchy as a barricade against the revolutionary ideology that demanded changing Hungary from a semi-feudal state to a parliamentary democracy of the western type. Contrary to the expectations of the Hungarian leaders, the war accelerated the revolutionary process. The military defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in October 1918 lead to the virtual collapse of the state, a development which provided the revolutionary forces in Hungary with power and authority.
Hungarians have experienced western type democracy twice in the course of the twentieth century. Both democracies ware established after a war. Their life was brief. Failure of these democracies came about in both instances as a consequence of the intentional situation and not by internal design. No case can be made in argument of the thesis that the Hungarians had a "course of history" that inevitably led them to accept authoritarian systems.
The survival of Karolyi's People's Republic depended on the support of the victorious powers whose political ideology was now shared by Hungary. The leaders of France, Great Britain and the United States failed to buttress the young Hungarian republic. Their responsibility was not to prop up the revolution against its internal enemies. A "positive revolution" enjoys popular support and the Karolyi government, with its social and political program, enjoyed veritable consensus. Neither the monarchists nor the "bourgeois opposition" was able to muster enough popular support to threaten the life of the republic. The great powers were needed to support Hungary against its hostile neighbors whose territorial demands were exaggerated. In this respect Hungary remained unprotected.
The United States and Great Britain decided to remain neutral in the affairs of the successor states of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This area became a French sphere of interest by default. France showed marked hostility toward the Hungarians. This policy was not shaped by "revanchisme," but instead was the by-product of French military intervention in Russia, supported by two of Hungary's neighbors-Czechoslovakia and Rumania. French military representatives in Hungary, led by Colonel Vix, were sympathetic toward the Hungarians. Their superiors in the Balkans--General Henrys, General de Lobit, and the Commanderin-Chief of the Allied Armies of the Orient, General Franchet d'Esperey-- were equally even-handed in Hungarian affairs. Hostility toward Hungary was shared by those Frenchmen to whom Hungary was merely a part of an Eastern Europe which also included Russia. These men favored the appeasement of Hungary's neighbors as long as they supported French intervention in Russia. General Henri Berthelot, the commander of the French forces in Rumania and in southern Russia, supported Rumanian intransigence against Hungary in return for Rumanian help in Russia. He played a major role in the demise of the Karolyi republic as constant Rumanian-Hungarian flare-ups provoked by Bucharest led to border changes that were unacceptable to the republic. French leaders of greater authority also subscribed to anti-Hungarian policies shaped by their preoccupation with Russia. Foreign Minister Pichon supported all Czechoslovak demands against Hungary largely because of the activities of the Czechoslovak Army in Russia. Marshal Foch, the generalissimo of all Allied forces, was also an exponent of war against Russia. His plans included the retailoring of the frontiers of Hungary in such a manner as could best provide victory for his forces. Prime Minister Clemenceau, as the leader of France, could be equally faulted for not seeing the potential danger of French policies toward Hungary. It was he who ordered the transmission of the famous Vix ultimatum of March 90, 1919, in which Rumania was given the green light to occupy more Hungarian territory. He expected that, in return, the Rumanian military could salvage the French-led Allied intervention in southern Russia. Clemenceau's hopes were soon shattered while the Vix ultimatum caused the collapse of the Karolyi regime and ended the liberal democratic revolution in Hungary.
A policy of Anglo-American neutrality with a "wait and see" attitude could hardly countervail French hostility. Even though members of visiting American and British missions favored active support for the Karolyi regime, the important decision makers in the U.S. government favored no new course towards Hungary. Neutrality at times when action is needed can be considered a bad policy. The Anglo-American leaders-- President Wilson, Secretary of State Lansing, Prime Minister Lloyd George and Foreign Secretary Balfour--could be faulted for their lack of commitment in East Central Europe and, specifically, toward Hungary.
While these men could be criticized for their policy of neutrality, they should be lauded for not shaping an anti-Hungarian policy in the emotioncharged atmosphere of that period. Though the Anglo-American leaders feared Bolshevism, they were not convinced by the anti-revolutionary propaganda of the right and of Hungary's neighbors claiming that Karolyi was leading Hungary to Bolshevism. Rising anti-Semitism. a companion of the Red Scare, had created hostility toward the republic by some. Many of the leaders of the government were Jewish. Yet there is no indication that this influenced the Anglo-American leadership in any way. The only exception to thus observation could be made in the case of Roza Bedy Schwimmer. Hostility towards her was, however, more on the grounds that she was a woman than that she was a Jewess. As the first woman ambassador in modern history she was pioneering equal opportunities for women. Her appointment by Karolyi should be praised on philosophical grounds, but in 1918 it created a diplomatic fury.
The above expose indicates that, in the opinion of the author, the role of personalities and their perception of Bolshevism, could be considered decisive for the fate of Karolyi's republic. Moreover, it is also evident that in spite of the polarization of French and Anglo-American activities vis a vis Hungary, there is a common underlying theme in the relations of the Allied powers with Hungary. It could be defined as a policy of "no policy." Thus, it is impossible to substantiate the claims of the Hungarian revolutionary leaders, memoirs that the Allied leaders consciously aimed to bring down the Karolyi government. Nor is it possible to subscribe to Marxist historiography which claims that the "bourgeois-democratic" republic was the victim of the institutional conspiracies of interest groups within and outside of Hungary.
Hungarian policies toward the "Big Three" were well defined. Karolyi's policy emphasized seeking United States' support. He firmly embraced Wilsonian idealism and hoped that his government's policy would gain American backing. The novelty of Wilsonism in Europe was also welcome to Karolyi because a democratic Hungary was equally new to the Europeans. While this period of Hungarian history had been seen mostly in the light of territorial squabbles, it is important to consider Karolyi as a revolutionary leader. Under his guidance social and political reforms brought Hungary into the twentieth century. It was the collapse of this revolution that subsequently led to the return of a whig autocracy in Hungary. Karolyi was also a visionary comparable to Wilson. His failure, however, was less spectacular than that of the American President's. At the time of the revolution only Wilson's close friend, George Creel, was able to note the stature of the Hungarian President.
The British were considered to be junior partners of the Americans. Though the Hungarians hoped to establish friendly relations with the government, there was no special emphasis put on British support. It was the counter-revolutionary elements in Hungary who hoped to find an affinity between the British and Hungarian aristocracy and thus hoped to muster support for the counter-revolutionary cause The Hungarians had little success with their efforts. The attitude of Lewis Namier, the Austro-Hungarian specialist of the Foreign Office, prevailed. Namier supported the social revolution that was taking place in Hungary. Balfour and Lloyd George were of the same opinions.
Hungarian foreign policy toward France was markedly different from the pro-Anglo-American policy. France was considered as an unfriendly state and Hungarian leaders gave up on ameliorating relations soon after the arrival of the Vix mission to Hungary. The Vix mission was to supervise the armistice agreement but was also in charge of transmitting French demands to the Hungarians. Since these demands required territorial concessions, Vix and his superiors came to be considered as instigators and executors of the harsh demands of the French government. The bitterness of the Hungarians toward Vix, however, was not wholly justifiable. Vix and his immediate superiors were sympathetic to the Hungarian cause. The Hungarians were not aware that in the French military command there was a conflict of authority over Hungary. Even though General Franchet d'Esperey was theoretically in charge, General Berthelot constantly interfered in Hungarian affairs. Berthelot's designs often prevailed because he was in charge of the southern theater in Russia. Emphasis was put on the success of France's Russian policy.
In the long run, Budapest's pro-Entente policy was considered a failure Anglo-American neutrality had allowed Hungary's neighbors to blockade her with impunity. Czechoslovakia prevented the flow of coal--the life-blood of the nation. The Yugoslavs slowed the emergency food shipment destined for Hungary. Such hostile activities created economic hardships. The Vix Ultimatum of March 20 demanded Hungary's yielding of Transylvania and a considerable part of the lowlands to Rumania. The terms, had they been submitted to at the time, would have led to the immediate and total collapse of the economy. The Allied threat of force was met with defiant rejection. Karolyi and his Cabinet resigned and this brought about the collapse of the Hungarian People's Republic and the rise of Bela Kun's communist regime.
Bela Kun promised to reply to Allied force in kind by using Bolshevik aid. Thus, Allied bayonets did not bring democracy to Hungary in 1918-1919. The threat of bayonets led to the collapse of the five month democratic experiment. Hungary had tried democracy and had tailed in spite of herself.
Since the life of the Karolyi government depended on the disposition of the great powers, the relations of Hungary and the Big Three warrants the detailed study of this monograph.
|Peter Pastor: Hungary Between Wilson and Lenin...|